WASHINGTON, June 1, 2006 — -- The Bush administration unveiled today a new global approach to curbing the production and abuse of methamphetamine, a highly addictive party drug produced in clandestine labs.
"It is a specific focus on methamphetamine and prescription drugs that have become, as you all know, a growing part of the drug problem in this country over the last decade," John Walters, the White House director of national control policy, told a news conference. "This represents a commitment of the administration to work toward a meaningful and a sustained reduction in meth use as well as the number of meth labs that have been poisoning too many communities."
In the past year, federal, state and local law enforcement authorities have seized about 11,000 small labs that produced an estimated 20 percent of methamphetamine sold in the United States.
The goal is to cut methamphetamine abuse 15 percent by 2008 and reduce the production from illegal meth labs in the United States by 25 percent.
To do that, the departments of Justice, State and Homeland Security will work to improve intelligence on the global market of the chemicals used to make methamphetamine, which are produced in China, India and Germany. The United States will also work with Mexico to step up law enforcement activities along the U.S.-Mexican border, the site of much of the trafficking in both methamphetamine and its component chemicals.
"Mexico and the United States' joint battle against drugs has reached an unprecedented level," Eduardo Ibarrola, the deputy chief of mission at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, told reporters. "Under no circumstance can our common border be an excuse for impunity."
In addition, the strategy calls for strict enforcement of laws -- part of the Patriot Act extension that President Bush signed in March -- that restrict the sales of many common cold and allergy remedies that can be used to make methamphetamine.
Many states had already acted to restrict sales of those over-the-counter drugs.
This federal response will "take the leading efforts by many states and take the lessons learned and apply them nationally," Walters said, "helping us control the spread and also reduce the current levels of production and abuse."
Methamphetamine abuse was first concentrated in the Western region of the United States but has now spread to almost every metropolitan area, as well as to many rural towns. According to the latest data, about 12 million Americans over the age of 12 said they'd tried methamphetamine at least once.